Akhtar`s form worries Pak coach Waqar

Dhaka: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has expressed concerns over the poor form of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar ahead of the ICC World Cup but hoped the speedster will get match-fit to deliver the goods for his team in the showpiece event.

"Shoaib is not looking in touch at the moment. At the moment, we have a slight problem with the new ball, but there is still some time to go," said Waqar, ahead of Pakistan`s last practice match against England on Friday.

Pakistan starts their World Cup campaign against Kenya in Sri Lanka on February 23.

Akhtar had not bowled in yesterday`s warm-up match against co-hosts Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka, which Pakistan won by 89 runs.

Waqar, however, exuded confidence that Akhtar will prove his worth as Pakistan`s leading pace spearhead in the warm-up match against England.

"If he gets it right against England in the next game, he is obviously our number one choice. We are confident he will perform," said Waqar, a veteran of 87 Tests and 262 ODIs.

The fast bowling great said he and the team`s bowling coach Aaqib Javed are paying special attention to the 35-year-old Akhtar`s fitness.

"Shoaib played in New Zealand where he improved in patches. We are trying to work with him. Aaqib Javed and myself, we are working with him, trying to get his rhythm right before the tournament starts," said Waqar.

Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam also said that even a half-fit Akhtar would be a handful for opponents during the World Cup.

"Shoaib is not 100 per cent fit, but even a half-fit Akhtar can lift Pakistan to glory," the former leg-spinner said.

"He needs to be utilised carefully to get the best out of him. A lot could depend on the weather, heat, humidity as to how Shoaib is utilised by the skipper," said Alam, who was the coach of 1992 World Cup winning Pakistan team.


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